I always knew I was different. From as young as I can possibly remember I knew I wasn’t like other children. I felt things way more intensely and came across as dramatic when I tried to express myself.
My mother, like many people her age, saw mental illness as something to be embarrassed about. When I started to have emotional outbursts at school or I’d cry and beg her not to fall asleep during the day because the anxiety I felt was unbearable I was just labelled a child with behavioural problems. I was always made to feel like I chose to be this way.
I'm a 23 year old man, and I've struggled with my mental health for about a decade. What began as having low moods turned into suicidal thoughts, psychosis, addiction, anxieties and depression. At one point I tried to take my own life.
Growing up with these emotions resulted in me feeling very isolated.
I hid my true emotions as best I could growing up because the few occasions when I mentioned I was feeling low, not even depressed, I was told to ‘man up’ or ‘get over it’.
Mental illness has been a constant struggle throughout my life. I suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), generalised anxiety disorder and depression. For many years, I kept this a closely guarded secret, because I was too afraid to open up to those around me, for fear of rejection, stigma and discrimination.
I’m 39 years of age and have struggled with my mental health for the majority of those years. I’ve known for a long time it’s been more than depression, but I never felt able to tell anyone just how bad things were. I’ve been through long periods of depression and long periods of what I now know to be mania, and these episodes have lengthened and intensified over the years. After the death of my friend at the end of last year, everything intensified and not getting help was no longer an option.